10 July 2013

take the long way home (on parenting those who are taller than you)

Since last week I have had an accompaniment earworm of ‘Take the Long Way Home’ (that song from the iconic Breakfast in America album released by Supertramp in 1979.) We had been having a conversation at work about our favourite classic rock and pop music and since A, who sits next to me mentioned that this song was playing on his ipod, it has taken up residence in my brain.

The song came to mind during the marathon men’s singles final at Wimbledon on Sunday (from the viewpoint that the trophy was finally after 77 years leaving Fred Perry’s Stockport and heading further north to Andy Murray’s Dunblane.) It returned again today when the inflection of the squeaky office door reminded me of the song’s snake-y opening mouth organ riff (courtesy of an overactive musical imagination!)

Over the past few days I have had a few conversations/text exchanges with friends on the subject of being parents to young adults and older teens (I’m not sharing specifics because the ‘children’ are all people living their own lives and active on social media). The chats were largely about sharing successes but also pains, mental and physical health and the pressures facing both us and our beautiful young people, particularly around the time of significant exams and degree results. The offpsring are navigating their way out of education and out of our regular daily lives and we are watching, holding our collective breaths. Wondering if they will break in the process and our hearts be squeezed just too hard.

Sadly there’s still discomfort in sharing too widely, those sorts of difficulties when we 'fess up and troubles come home to roost in our front rooms, even among church people. The feeling is that some others are quick to judge. Either explicitly through unsolicited advice or implicitly when a slightly superior attitude seeps out in words or God forbid in prayers. 

It makes this particular road even more of a hard slog sometimes.

And I want to say sorry for the times over the years when I have been concomitant in this this pointing fingers thing. Not necessarily externally and in words. But even by allowing myself to indulge in internal finger pointing, inner competitive parenting and smugness that I don’t ‘have these problems’ sadly: 

I have diluted grace with another 

I have racked my brains for a paltry piece of stupid advice when I should have been listening

I have judged how marriage difficulties might have impacted on a child and diminished pain in front of me bouncing off the walls

I have determined that the rod has been spared and a child spoiled

I have concluded that a sense of entitlement has been created when families are well off and that sowing is now being reaped

I'm sorry for that ugly mess friends which has been my heart at times. 

More than anything I want to get on with having the mercy to listen well when you give me the opportunity. And to thank you for the times you have sat and listened to me say the same things in different versions and dispensed thoughtful wisdom and sent texts with pants, cr*p and sorrys.

Give us feet of friendship that will walk all or some of the way alongside each other and hands of kindness that will hold and be held. For the way home is already long enough, let’s love well and not make it any longer than it has to be.

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